June 27, 2018

Over the past months, I’ve been intrigued by the narrative of Elisha and the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4.8–37). She’d been practically helpful to the prophet – in effect, providing him with B&B. As a gesture of thanks, the prophet asked her what he could do for her. She had an elderly husband and dearly wanted a son. So Elisha promised her one. And God delivered on it. But when the child grew older he suffered what could be construed as a brain aneurism, and died. Even Elisha was taken aback, and utterly perplexed by this providence. What God had allowed seemed so cruel, almost sadistic, and without interpretation. The woman was in more anguish now than she ever had she been while childless:  Elisha said: ‘she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me’. Why did God give something only to take it away, and so soon? Elisha, however, raised the son from the dead and restored him to his mother. We aren’t told why this course of events had to take place, or whether an explanation was ever given to Elisha and the mother (‘Diary of Departures’ (May 12, 2018)).

7.00 am: A lie-in. 7.45 am: A communion. 8.30 am: Postgraduate admin: tutorials and workshops to arrange, emails to post, and PhD inquirers’ consultations to confirm. There were also a module feedback mail-shot to be prepared for posting tomorrow, and a computer repair to arrange. It’s the little things that prove to be, for me, the most taxing.

At this time of the year, and largely only at this time of the year, I suffer from a severe ankle oedema. The condition is inexplicable (or else, it may have many possible explanations). My theory is that it arrives coterminous with the pollen dispersion and heat. Outside of this period, it’s set-off, in a milder form, by allergic reactions to certain foods, which I can avoid. My immune system can’t cope with additional assault. I’ve upped my magnesium supplement, adopted a regime of periodically elevating my feet, and, today, began soaking my poor ‘lil footsies in a basin of ice-cold water. (Static paddling.) This’ll be a good preparation for my forthcoming holiday in Iceland too. ‘Oooh! The cold!’:

(The students are right: I do have a somewhat manic and intimidating stare. I should smile more often.)

10.15 am: I reviewed yesterday’s work on the ‘That One Day’ composition. It stands up. Perhaps each phrase sequence could serve as a textual ‘backbeat’ for each composition comprising the suite. In effect, this would be the reverse approach to that deployed in ‘Blind’. Before moving back to ‘Write Up the Vision …’, I listened again to the explosion that will introduce ‘Wisdom is Better Than Weapons of War’. I’ve yet to determine a way of reducing the length of the whole, but I do know how to divide it into five pieces (corresponding to the number of nuclear tests that took place in July 1964). Each would be 9 minutes and 36 seconds long, as they stand. My motto is: ‘Do what is doable first’. That’ll clear the way to see what’s presently undoable. In my mind, I was thinking: ‘Remember “Image and Inscription”‘.

There were features of the mixdown that, when stretched using Adobe Audition, reminded me of effects that I’d developed by entirely analogue means in my mid teens, when I first became interested in manipulating sound. The opening of ‘Robert Fripp’ (1976) (below), composed when I was seventeen years of age, is a case in point. I’d also improvised an electric guitar work for one of my other guitar heroes, Les Paul, during this period (1973–77). It’s included on an album of experimental juvenilia entitled The Last Things:


Abertillery (1973)

I was struck, on listening to it again, by how early-on some of my characteristic sonorities, conceptual strategies, and methodologies had been established. ‘Ion on Iron’, for example, isn’t a world away from ‘The Lesser Light’, which I’ve completed only recently.

11.20 am: While the 2.06 GB file of the total Bible mixdown (that sounds like a dub-track) was being prepared, I unbucketed my feet and moved to the table where ‘Write Up the Vision …’ was in progress. I unlocked the file folders to the recording. Some, curiously, had remained unfastended. (As in other dimensions of life, what you’d considered closed from may not have been locked in the first place. Therefore knock on and push at every door that you encounter, even if an opportunity doesn’t appear to present itself. You never know who or what will open for you.)

After lunch, I carved up the whole bible mixdown in readiness for whatever is to come. 2.15 pm: Off to town to attend a sports physiotherapy appointment and deal with my aching Achilles tendon. Claire the therapist has magic hands, and clearly communicates what’s amiss and how to remedy it. (Her drawing skills need a bit of work, though.) She promised fiendishly difficult exercises at future sessions. I’m up for that!:

She’s cleared me for a return to moderate running, and walking over volcanic ash.

3.30 pm: On my return home, I received the good news that I’d secured the funding for my next CD. Full steam ahead, then! That’s the fastest application turnaround I’ve ever experienced. Back to ‘Wisdom is Better …’ . ‘Image and Inscription’ was based upon the sonic adaptation of the data-bent sound derived from pictorial engravings, and recordings of a commercial engraver and voices engraved in to vinyl. This present composition has only the vinyl recording as a source for interpretive sounds. In this respect, both it and the album have most in common with the R R B V E Ǝ T N Ƨ O A (2015) CD. ‘Wisdom is Better …’ will, I’d conjecture, owe it’s sonorities to ‘Image and Inscription’ and its methodology to the Evan Roberts wax cylinder CD. A hybrid, in other words. I began looking for salient biblical verses on wisdom and weaponry.

7.15 pm: I finalised the initial verse search before addressing my iMac’s post-IOS update stability problems. I needed to export my iTunes music folder to an external source so that the whole computer can be wiped clean and begun again. Any sentient biological entity with a past to erase would covert the prospect.

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