on life, music etc beyond mainstream





The title „Physiognomy of the Prestidigator“ has nothing to do with the above. I can’t remember what I made it up for, or when. I remember this, though: the prestidigitator is a nobody – a sub-subcharacter referenced in a piece of dialogue in one of the 5 Truffaut films about the crazy life of Antoine Doinel. A nobody referenced in the conversation of a nobody. Severe delays on the Circle Line. Everything is broken. Everything is repairable.


When Nietzsche said ‚hey, God is dead‘
He forgot to mention this:
Satan died in the same accident –
Everything’s all it is. All is garbage, all is bliss.



Across The Red Sea is the work – intentionally or otherwise – of a mystic. It’s only Bim Sherman’s 3rd or 4th LP (it depends how you count these things, and tbh I can’t be bothered with chronology anyway – it’s just as arbitrary a way of ordering things as by weight, dimensions or colour. Fuck chronology. Everyone should organise their record collections by spine colour from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to indigo to violet, then the black and white ones should be used to transmit a message, like this:


01101001 00100000 01101100 01101111 01110110 01100101 00100000 01110010 01100101 01100111 01100111 01100001 01100101


of course some spines may be multicoloured, in which case the exercise is void, taxonomy is void, the idea of genre itself a crock.)

If you live on an island, you’re aware of things that mainlanders maybe aren’t quite so aware of. Seagulls are bastards. The lunar pull is stronger when water surrounds you. And the actuating spirit works its way in from the sea: the font of all life, the place where the first strand of mitochondrial DNA – ever – came into being. Can you hear the mermaids singing?

Across The Red Sea – well, let’s not get into music critic mode here. It’s just a beautiful record, one that has fascinated me for a long, long time. The production is lush – detailed, engineered with space in all the right places like a fine Swiss cheese. The mood of the album seems to go between contemplative and quietly devotional. Some of the songs deal with heavy themes but the trick here is to survey a broken fucked up landscape/cityscape but not do an impotent protest singer routine.

Creatively, Across The Red Sea is a triumph. All killer, no filler. Irie.

2016 23 Apr

space/hospital machinery

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And you’d seen J Spaceman twice in real life, in perhaps not so unlikely locations. At the premiere of the film Control whenever that was – 2007 maybe, at the Edinburgh Film Festival. And at the after-event party for the premiere of the film Trash Humpers a couple of years later. On a boat in Lambeth, which is listing. You get introduced to Harmony Korine, and a slightly reserved agnès b. but no Spaceman introduction, which is probably just as well – because what do you say to the dude who wrote one of the best records you ever heard?



And your perceptions of a record are your own. This one, to me, is bigger than the 90s rock/pop milieu/context it appeared in, or the world. And that was just the outside. From the medical blister-pack that contained it (you actually had to break foil to get to the CD) to the small piece of paper in the box with notes on dosage and contraindications, this was something else.

Sure, there’s a similarity with Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy here – but the difference is in the fact that this was just the container. Hirst’s immaculate presentations – for structural reasons, didn’t hold anything. So you got this and you went inside and, and, and …

Boom. A frail voice intones the words of Elvis: „Wise men say only fools rush in, only fools rush in. But I, I cant help falling, falling in love with you“.

ODB’s son said that prior to his passing, he saw angels.

The frailness and the conviction in the voice here are unusual – definitely not your average rock vox. The otherworldly intermittent beeps in the background suggest space/hospital machinery. Patterns of notes descend, lifted up by their own fading cycles of repetition.

Is the protagonist seeing dancing angel photons in his peripheral vision? In the story that follows, death (or at least a sharp acknowledgement of it) is in every frame. This record is maybe a bit like a Carlito’s Way style film narrative – the end is place it all starts.

Ladies and gentleman we are floating in space will be 20 years old next year. Ignore the write ups, and instead just listen – or maybe open up a lyrics site and practice singing to the vocal numbers.

2016 16 Apr

SYRO relistenifeyed

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The rain had poured since dawn upon the craggy Northumberland countryside, over tin shed roofs, farmsteads, hill clefts and footpaths, trickling in rivulets down windscreens and foreheads, soaking gardens, small pub car parks and fence posts, glistening the yellow-brown leaves of early autumn and the sills of windows everywhere.

Rain. So much rain. An unending wetness threatens to drown dreams of dry weekend weddings, country walks and youthful skylarking in twilit harvest fields, a pouring not so much of water as of gloomy indoors listlessness, driving people to the kitchen kettle, the wireless, the unfinished jigsaw puzzle and other workaday pursuits, while the incessant tapping of rain on pane and sill played out its subtle insistent rhythm of quiet enervation.

Zigzagging away thru the boredom and the pain stunning communist architecture now and then glancing up thru the rain to beyond it: the fuck-all that is nowhere and endless.

SYRO. September 2014 songs. Spring 2016 relistening:
1 [67] cubist xylophone. chrono holz! lols
2 [120] n,n-dimethyltryptamine/stocktaking. get off the ind. est. shapes/no shadows
3 [101] 9Roy Orbison0
4 [126.26] made my heart burst
5 [130] roland tr-808 i swarm of bees
6 [141.98] sea v. sea (see) view. „I want to play my Space Invaders!“
7. [138.85]
8. [152.97] insect olympics
9. [141.98] nonchalant bermonndsey superiotituty thames floatwr
10. [155] no copyright case. the innocemce of *becoming*. your bravery of space travel
11. [163.97] dogs barking. birds singing. elephant elephant
12. [102] love sky constellation warzone. bright clothes for winter

Bright clothes for winter.

2016 3 Apr

Green glass balconies

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I’ve got pockets full of solutions to the problems of the world
I’ve got barbecues like footballs perched on green glass balconies
Where dereliction used to fester
Where the coffee bars spread like weeds
And streetlights flicker eternal*



*The Karl Hyde lyric is weak lights flicker in tunnels but hey, my ears hear what they hear. Edgeland is still on heavy rotation in my personal playlist. I fucking love this record. Fucking genius, fucking all. Fucking everything: fucking motorways, fucking supermarkets, fucking clouds in my coffee.

Notes on the photo: this was taken in Staten Island in late April 2012. I have no memory of why I took it, or what happened that day. If there was a moment under the moment, then this was it. The cosmos was broken. The cosmos was repairable. She kissed me: it felt like a hit.

And dreams should stay in dreamspace, for that’s where they belong. Mainly cos a dream remembered is a dream that has only half done its work. And the cosmos is made up of stuff the scientists can’t find. Most of it is dream matter – a product that fuses language and music, iration and realisation, past and present, up and down, war and non-war, everything and everything else, and more, into one synaesthesic ball of luminous gloop. Everything* participates. Why does your heart as well as your gut feel music when music is only auditory – just chimp 1.2 banging skins and strumming wires? Because there’s no such thing as playing music: the music plays you. All the successful musician does – in the final analysis – is mediate smudged echoes of the moment of creation and maybe the moment under the moment too. They are listening for the ghost of a chance. They may help us make sense of who we are and where we came from; and as a compassionate side effect, teach us that nothing is lost. So I rake the sky, I listen hard. I trawl the megahertz.

And one night in 2013 a dream half did its work, remembered it on awakening in the middle of the night. The visuals have longsince turned to cosmotic/dreamcosmotic dust but the main theme of it was entirely word based. A repeated phrase that meant nothing to me. It went „Zeta Reticuli knows“, I don’t know how many times. I Say ‚remembered it‘ but the riff was still bouncing around my cerebral cortex – I could still feel it. I picked up my phone and sent myself an SMS so I could remember this meaningless phrase in the morning: „zetaretikuly knows“. Went back to sleep. Typed the nonsense phrase into Google the next day. And it turns out, with the help of search engine semantic/syntax correction, that Zeta Reticuli is real. Why it had got buried under a bush in the boondocks of the subconscious is not for me to conjecture. But hey, Zeta Reticuli knows – for it is written in light on a speck of lighter lighter light in the synaesthesic oblate globe of luminous silly putty that 90% of the cosmos comprises of. Somewhere.

And last week I dreamt I saw the cover of Marillion’s record Misplaced Childhood on a post written in pixels within the everchanging wider set of pixels on Manafonistas. And I dreamt I listened to the whole thing over again.  Ich brauche eine bestimmte Energie, um diese Schallplatte zu hören. & this was all I needed. &:

And I looked out the window
And I saw a magpie in the rainbow, the rain had gone


What the record offers is a nexus: the place where the dreamers of the dream meet the morning at the window, where The Incredible String Band, Boards of Canada and your own warblings make sense. The cup is broken. And everything is broken. And everything is repairable.

*Even stone.
[Note: 12.35% of this text is copyright Paddy McAloon, 2003. The rest is copyright: the universe]

2016 27 Feb


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____ F
„33 years since its original arrival, January 22 saw the release of the re-mastered version of one of John Cale’s most unique and lauded solo records, Music For A New Society, alongside a visceral new reworking of the album under the title M:FANS – a record that explores the relationship between old and new, in terms of the sound and vision, and Cale’s memories of the experience, in terms of his life, and the recording.“ (

I listened. I laughed (cried?) What now?

2016 19 Feb


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The word ’steps‘ (or its approximate translation) appears frequently in the works of André Breton and Raoul Vaneigem. Words that build or destroy, dirt dry bone sand and stone. Where’s north from here?


2016 15 Feb

im Paradies

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David Bowie’s ‚David Bowie‘ contains 14 Schneekugeln. I had high hopes for doing them all here, but no. It’s time to call time. Not because the remaining 7 aren’t any good: of course they are

It’s just that it’s a listening thing. David Bowie’s ‚David Bowie‘. Doing the first 7 you realise this shit is like William Blake’s ‚Songs of Innocence and Experience‘: the simple ain’t simple, time ain’t time, gravity ain’t gravity. Nothing to throw adjectives or musicological pseudo-theory at

Or: Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen

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