Precedence: bulk
Subject: Chalkhills Digest #391

              Chalkhills Digest, Number 391

                Saturday, 5 November 1994

Today's Topics:
                Re: Chalkhills Digest #390
      Boycotting the XTC boycott!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                     Re: XTC boycott
                   What to Collect NOW?
                Re: Chalkhills Digest #390
                         new guy!
                       Hello there
                    Yazbek rejoinders
                       XTC Auction
                     sam in die hard
                 XTC tribute suggestions
             Re: My first Chalkhills mailing
                    Cover Helicopter?!
                      map of swindon
                      The cover game
                       Re: Boycott
                  'A Typology of Hooks'


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O my head is spinning like the world and it's filled with beasts I've seen.


Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 01:09:48 -0800 (PST)
From: Francis Owen McDonnell <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills Digest #390

        I haven't had anything to say for a while, but two things struck
me in Chalkhills #390

John Pidgeon writes:

> Good day everyone,
> I was just sitting around today (it's raining pretty heavy, which might
> account for my dark mood) and here's a thought I would like to share.
> When the next XTC album is released, there's a customer boycott. Only after
> XTC has announced a live concert, fans in that city will then purchase the
> new album. This is just a rough idea, but is there any takers?
> We can send our petition to XTC's record company.

        This seems like an extremely silly idea to me.  Yeah it would be
great if the boys toured, but there is no reason to try to force them
into going on the road.  I am one of those that think that Andy is just
being stubborn at this point about not touring.  But this has nothing to
do with my enjoyment of the music.  The three of them could be the
biggest idiots in the world, and I would still voraciously listen to
anything they put out (thank go that is not the case!). If they tour,
great.  If not, we'll continue to go on like we have for the past twelve
years.  A friend of mine had tickets for the canceled  English Settlement
show on Long Island in 1982, and he is not bitter (At least I don't
 think he is ....)

> I'm not big on the technical aspects of my music.  I like the tunes &
> I like the words but don't bother me with chord progressions & drum parts
> & stuff.  If XTC was all I listened to, I probably would never know what
> a bridge was.  But listening to Genesis, I noticed they always have a part
> that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the song (can't think
> of any specific examples just now--wish I could 'cos they're funny).
> When I made this (I thought) brilliant observation to my husband, he just
> said, "That would be the bridge, dear."  End of discussion.  That's what
> I know about bridges.  Not much.

        Calling the "part that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest
of the song" in Genesis songs a bridge would be false.  What you are
hearing _is_ the song.  Early Genesis (say, pre-1980) songs in general
were not pop songs, and hence did not follow your Verse/Chorus/Bridge
format.  Their songs are exquisite compositions, not radio-friendly pop
tunes.  I am not saying this to belittle XTC at all.  It's possible to be
in love with two things at once, isn't it?

        In closing, I'll back up Pete Dressler's take on "Books are Burning."
I think it is an excellent song with excellent lyrics.  And if the guitar
solos turn you off, just be glad that it doesn't happen all of the time.

        Frank McDonnell


From: Dames The Wonder Dog <SPXDLF@CARDIFF.AC.UK>
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 11:41:02 GMT
Subject: Boycotting the XTC boycott!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Pidgeon writes:

> When the next XTC album is released, there's a customer boycott. Only after
> XTC has announced a live concert, fans in that city will then purchase the
> new album. This is just a rough idea, but is there any takers?

I have heard some really ridiculous things written on Chalkhills, but
the incredible idea of boycotting the next album really takes the
biscuit (I'm not sure if this phrase translates at all but it is
meant to convey the feeling that the idea is not good.)

Why don't we kidnap John P and write to the record company telling
them that we will kill him unless Andy tours?  That's a marginally
less amoral idea!  I would love it if Andy toured again, but this
sort of blackmail is exactly that.  Do you really think that you can
strong arm Andy in that way too?  The album just wouldn't sell,
thats all that would happen.

John wrote that it was raining at the time he wrote his preposterous
idea.  I hope that it is now sunny and he realises what a disgusting
idea it was.  I also hope that the whole of the next Chalkhills is
totally full of people writing as I do to bonk this utterly
unbelievable, stupid, mindless, thoughtless (have I conveyed my
fellings about this subject yet?) idea on the head now, just to let
John know.  Think about it John - Andy writes music not to make money
or please his fans, but to please himself.

Sorry to go on,

Dames TWD.

P.s. Brits do buy XTC, I know of at least two!


From: Mark Colan <>
Date:  3 Nov 94 10:37:37 ES
Subject: Re: XTC boycott

> When the next XTC album is released, there's a customer boycott. Only
> after XTC has announced a live concert, fans in that city will then purchase
> the new album. This is just a rough idea, but is there any takers?

Oh, sure!  That's the same reason I boycotted the Beatles for Rubber Soul
onwards.  They never came around to tour these albums!  (At least, not to


Date: 3 Nov 1994 11:26:09 U
From: "Wesley Wilson" <>
Subject: What to Collect NOW?

Like many other XTC fans, I have a vast collection of their material,
including such gems as the US King for a Day CD with the "fisheye lens"
picture disc, the Japanese "This is Live" (Hammersmith concert 1981), and the
3" US Mayor of Simpleton with the "tavern sign" paintings of the band.
Melinda Hale once said, "Wes, you have it all." While I take her statement as
a high compliment, I wonder...

Having gotten the latest CD, "Drums and Wireless," (and really enjoying big
parts of it!) I wonder what CDs I should pursue now? I have all of the
regular releases, of course. What CDs are still available (within reason) and
worth getting? These can include CDs where members of XTC help with

This discussion could benefit some budding collectors in this group.


P.S. The new Little Express is out? Hope I get my copy; I moved and I have
been getting all of my first-class mail forwarded to my new address!


Date: Thu, 3 Nov 94 11:08 EST
From: Jeffrey Langr <>
Subject: Re: Chalkhills Digest #390

 From John Pidgeon:
JP>> When the next XTC album is released, there's a customer boycott. Only
JP>> after XTC has announced a live concert, fans in that city will then
JP>> purchase the new album. This is just a rough idea, but is there any
JP>> takers?

JP>> We can send our petition to XTC's record company.

Virgin and Geffen already have had plenty of thoughts about getting rid of
XTC; if it wasn't for the freak success of Dear God, Skylarking would likely
have been the last straw for XTC on Geffen and Virgin, according to the
rumbles I remember from around then.  So, a good petition would just result
in XTC ending up on some crappy label like New Rose or Rounder or something.

The idea about a live concert is getting old, mostly because Andy P. and the
other gentlemen are getting old.  Not quite as bad as a fifty-year-old Mick
Jagger prancing around on stage but not quite so pretty either.  I'd go see
them, natch, but I think their time has more or less past for that sort of

Speaking of Skylarking: I do remember reading the Rolling Stone review on
Skylarking when it came out, and they basically tagged it as a lame wimpy
effort on XTC's part.  Interestingly enough, when Rolling Stone came out with
their top 100 records of the decade issue (and subsequent glossy paperbook),
Skylarking placed somewhere in the 40's for best records of the decade, as I
recall.  And, it was the only XTC record in the 100.


Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 13:51:36 -0600
From: (James Kosmicki)
Subject: new guy!

Hello.  My name is Jim. (Hello, Jim).

As most of you know, being an XTC fan is usually a lonely obsession. When
I discovered Chalkhills, I was in awe of the fact that enough other people
cared about the group to get a discussion list going.  I'm still in a state
of amazement, but now I can finally share my thoughts and feelings to people
who will Care, or at least pretend to care.

My story is a bit different from the ones I have heard so far.  i grew up,
and have come back to, a town of about 38,000 people in the middle of
Nebraska.  My high school days were the early 80's, and I refused to listen
to the "Jack and Diane/Jukebox Hero" crap on the radio.  Some older guys at
the restaraunt where I worked played me the B-52's and the Dead Kennedys, and
my life was different.  I began to search out all the alternative "New Wave"
and "Punk" music that I could find.  I primarily bought by labels, as anything
on Sire, Virgin or Passport was usually interesting.  Needless to say, one day
I found this Virgin album _Drums and Wires_ by a *new* group, XTC.  And that
was that.

I have bought every XTC album, and now CD, that I could find ever since.
My favorites are: _Drums and Wires_, _Skylarking_, and _English Settlement_.
I am even one of those unfortunates who had to buy a second copy of
_Skylarking_ because the copy I bought the day it came into the store did not
have "Dear God."  BTW, I agree with an earlier posting that "Dear God" is a
good way to introduce people to XTC.  However, don't ignore "No Thugs in Our
House," "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty," "Life Begins at the Hop,"
or "Oh, You Pretty Girls."

If you notice, I don't talk much about XTC's more recent music. This is
because after their most accessible material _Drums and Wires_ through
_English Settlement_, XTC's work requires time to settle and become its full
self. I am just now beginning to fully savor _The Big Express_.


Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 13:58:04 -0600
From: (James Kosmicki)
Subject: covers

The idea of a tribute album is interesting, and I don't have much to add
except that Suzanne Vega would do marvelous things with any song from
_English Settlement_.
As for "Helicopter," the group Ween would be good.
I have always heard Oingo Boingo doing "ScissorMan."  Listen again to
_The Nightmare Before Christmas_ if you are uncertain.

BTW, being new to the list, I do not know if anyone has mentioned the
group Morphine or not.  Their second album, _Cure for Pain_, is a masterpiece.
They would do marvelous things with "Grass," "Jason and the Argonauts," and I
have a feeling that their "Mayor of Simpleton" would be worth the price of
admission.  Check them out, they are on Rykodisc, so it's easy to find their

As a tangent, what covers would people like to hear Andy and company do? I
know that they do not have to, nor is there any reason for them to cover
other writers' works, but still...


From: "Jim Slade" <>
Organization:  The Current Science Group
Date:          Thu, 3 Nov 1994 17:56:53 EST5EDT
Subject:       Hello there

Hello there,

I've been an XTC fan since 1981, when a friend turned me on to
English Settlement.  Since Skylarking, contrary to most XTC fans, I
imagine, my enthusiasm for the band has slowly dwindled.  I sold
Nonesuch after about 1 week.  Sorry folks.

The band can still churn out a few pop masterpieces per release, but
a certain formula and sterility have set in.  Is it the lack of a real
drummer? The cessation of touring (or at least playing together as a
real band - behind closed doors, so to speak - also the result of not
having a drummer)?  Once, XTC pulled from a variety of sources to
update the work done by The Greatest Band Ever, The Beatles.  They
were doing the work that the Beatles would have done with pop formats
had they been able to work in Steve Reich, Captain Beefheart, Glam
Rock, Punk, etc.  Beginning with Skylarking, XTC - to me - began
sounding self-satisfied and more insular than ever.  They were happy
to perfect what they'd already done (Skylarking, Oranges and
[mostly] Lemons), to perfect paying homage to their influences to the
point that the only logical thing they could do was to do (and the
best and ballsy-est, I might add) was to become the Dukes of
Stratosphear.  Nonesuch not only failed to break new ground (at least
new ground that I could stomach listening to - take that "Rook"
fans), but it is badly produced, it doesn't have a special sound to
it that previous albums by the band have.  More FM fodder, just a few
more hooks and a lot more brains.

I stick with the band, and I subscribe to this list, because I have
hope that the band will come out of its shell (or finally dedicate
itself to being the Dukes - how about bringing Martin Newell aboard
and letting Dave Gregory's brother drum on all the records; they
could even tour that way, with Newell playing the Bruce Johnston
role) or split up and get back some fire individually.

Finally, RE: XTC boycott:  Come on!  That's their business if they
don't want to tour.  I know that touring basically sucks (and I was
in my early 20s), especially if your music is not based on "rocking
out."  I'm sure that songs like "Rook," for those who dig it, would
be a cue for casual fans (and those who don't dig it) to head for the
concession stand/bar/bathroom.  Now if they could play Pink Floyd-
type shows, with floating pigs and the like...


From: David Yazbek <>
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 18:40:33 -0500
Subject: Yazbek rejoinders

In the last posting, Steve Johnston needed to here it from the horses mouth
that it wasn't Andy on "Change My World". Well, I'll say it again-- it was
Sean Altman (of Rockapella) doing a conscious or un, Partridge-like vocal
turn. Myself and Bill Straus (of Brattleboro)  are "His Neighbors". I would
like to thank everyone for the continuing suggestions. Stop using the word
tribute. Start saying "Testimonial".


Date: Thu, 3 Nov 1994 15:55:59 -0800
From: "Travis D. Day" <>
Subject: XTC Auction

Hey there,

I am posting this announcement of an auction of XTC mechandise for
a net-less friend.  I don't know exactly what is up for grabs but
the list is said to include lots of early singles.  If you would
like to participate send an  SASE to :
        Tim Davenport
        5010 NW Shasta
        Corvallis, OR 97330

The closing date for bids is December 9th, 1994 and he has posted this
info in the Little Express as well.

thanks for your time,


Organization: SLAIS, UBC
Date:         3 Nov 94 17:18:10 GM+5
Subject:      sam in die hard

It's true that Sam Phillips is going to be in Die Hard 3.  I read
it in either USA Today or my local paper.  They picked her based on
her pictures on Martinis and Bikinis.  What's next, Andy in "Speed 2"?


From: (Andre de Koning)
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 94 12:21:27 +0100
Subject: XTC tribute suggestions

Hey, I liked the B52's suggestion from the last issue. Let's have a bit
of fun with this!

Imagine Cyndi Lauper singing 'Rocket from a bottle'...

Or Madonna doing 'My weapon' with a heavy house-beat, and not changing
the 'I'll take it out on HER' lines...



Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 10:14:51 -0500
Subject: Re: My first Chalkhills mailing

Just got my first Chalkhills disgest in the E-box this morning. Sure was
refreshing to wake up and read some intelligent, pertinent, non-meandering
conversation from fans of one of my favorite band.
I just read that Mobile Fidelity is going to release a 24K Gold Disc of
Skylarking before the end of this year.I haven't seen it in my favorite music
shop yet. Has it been released yet? And if so, did that incredible,
mindblowing production get any better? (sorry Andy, but Todd was God for the
the Skylarking session at least).


Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 10:27:43 -0500
Subject: Cover Helicopter?!

<<...who should cover "Helicopter"...Some other candidates...a) Lene Lovich,
b) Stump, c) The Kronos Quartet...Better candidates to cover "Helicopter"...

To those who suggest anyone could do ~any~ justice to "Helicopter," I only
say this; "Blasphomy!"

This song ~is~ XTC. Putting anyone else's thumb print on it? Feh... The best
"derivitive" cover (alright--dub mix) is provided by none other than Andy
himself: "Rotary."

An XTC-list related question: Mr Relph very politely reminds us to truncate
our sigs to under 4 lines. I'd like to second that.

To the person who suggested using the keyword "FTP" on AOL, thank you, thank
you thank you. What a treasure chest of goodies that await us at the XTC FTP



Date: Fri, 04 Nov 1994 13:28:53 -0500 (CDT)
From: "my world is spinning..." <LEACH@AC.GRIN.EDU> (Arlo B Leach)
Subject: map of swindon

hey all-

okay, i've got the UK release of the Go2 CD, with MOULDING'S STREET PLAN OF
SWINDON inside.  this is a pretty un-detailed map, but it has little symbols
indicating important locations such as "place of education" and "place of
hallucination" and "place of virginity loss."

anyway, if you'd like to see this, say please and give me your regular mail
address, and i'll send you a photocopy in the next week or two.  cool?

and if anyone gets to go to swindon in the near future and uses this map,
send me some pictures, okay?



Date: Sat, 5 Nov 1994 10:24:53 -1100
From: (James Dignan)

John Pidgeon suggests:
>When the next XTC album is released, there's a customer boycott. Only
after XTC has announced a live concert, fans in that city will then purchase
the new album. This is just a rough idea, but is there any takers?

Unfair! To bring up the Beatles comparison again, one of the reasons why
they stopped touring was Lennon's morbid fear of audiences. Having stood
in front of a few - admittedly slightly ;-) smaller - audiences, I can
understand it. Anyway, some of us never get tours, boycott or not!

Paul Pearson muses
>>I love XTC, but I am lukewarm on Oingo Boingo, Violent Femmes.... and
while I respect them, I am even lukewarm on They Might Be Giants.

>I have hated Oingo Boingo passionately since they started and would NEVER
>presume to lump them in the same TIME ZONE with XTC.

I have noticed a deal of crossover between this list, the list for Brian
Eno, the list for Australia's The Church, and the Robyn Hitchcock list. I
feel the last in particular is interesting - the Englishness, the "jangle-
yet-still-power-pop-ish" sound and the (although in RH's case pretty wacky)
intelligent lyrics. Some of Hitchcock's songs could be XTC's (eg, Ride,
with lyrics like "love me love me love me/that's what all the papers say
/but they used to be trees..."). Hmmm. I'd like to hear RH cover All of
a Sudden.

>>Okay, I must say, too, that Blur's album is the best album this year.

As to best albums of the year: Swamp Ophelia (Indigo Girls); Sometime
Anywhere (The Church); 54 Days at Sea (Chris Bailey)(A MUST!); Sugar Mouth
(David Kilgour); Here (Adrian Belew); ... and coming soon (I await in
anticipation) Vrooom (King Crimson) and Bright Red (Laurie Anderson).

James Dignan, Department of Psychology, University of Otago.

Ya jivu v' 50 Norfolk St., St. Clair, Dunedin, New Zealand
steam megaphone NZ 03-455-7807

   * You talk to me as if from a distance
   * and I reply with impressions chosen from another time, time, time,
   * from another time                     (Brian Eno)


Date:         Fri, 04 Nov 94 15:50:13 EST
From: Pete Dresslar <PDRESSL@CMS.CC.WAYNE.EDU>
Subject:      The cover game

Perhaps some non-traditional answers to the cover game...

Travels in Nihilon......... Prodigy.  The remix would be amazing.
Complicated Game........... Stone Temple Pilots.  That's right.
Snowman.................... Prince.  Experimental, but has potential.
Generals and Majors........ The Police.  Call Andy & Stewart.
Frost Circus............... LFO.  Pretty.
Dear God................... The The, although I'm pretty sure it'd be
                            a rewrite on their part.
Helicopter................. Pavement.  Hold on.
Earn Enough for Us......... Anybody but Smashing Pumpkins.
Another Satelite........... Michael Jackson.  XTC would be LARGE.
Pink Thing................. Pee W... no, I can't say it.
Poor Skeleton Steps Out.... Cranberries ("Poor*uh*..skeleton steps out*uh*")
Leisure.................... Beavis & Butthead.
Yacht Dance................ London Symphony Orchestra

-pete in detroit, mi, usa        
"What's the message that's written under the base of clouds?"


Date: Fri, 4 Nov 1994 23:20:25 -0500
Subject: Re: Boycott

<<<When the next XTC album is released, there's a customer boycott. Only
after XTC has announced a live concert, fans in that city will then purchase
the new album. This is just a rough idea, but is there any takers?>>>

Erm - your intent, I suppose, is noble enough, but it would unfortunately
neccessitate my delaying the purchase of new XTC material by a day or more,
so I must respectfully decline.



Date: Sat,  5 Nov 94 05:02:00 UTC
Subject: Jazz?

I have a friend who's a very talented flutist, tending toward the
 jazz side of music, although, back in the 60s, he was an admirer
 of Jethro Tull and other classic 60s and 70s bands.  Recently, I
 got him to go with me to a rock show (Psychodots and Adrian
 Belew) and he flipped over how outstanding they were and said
 he'd be very open to being turned on to other rock music that he
 wasn't familiar with.  Of course, I loaned him a couple of XTC
 CDs (Skylarking and Oranges and Lemons) and he loved them both.
 When I was at his house recently, he told me that there was
 something that I had to see and he pulled out a jazz magazine he
 gets, entitled Jazziz.  He flipped to a feature called
 "Soundscapes" and there was a picture of Andy Partridge and
 Harold Budd and an accompanying article about Through The Hill as
 well as a discussion of Gyroscope, the year old ambient music
 label on which Through The Hill was released.  It's not a long
 article for the magazine, but will be long to reproduce here.
 Yet, eager to contribute something once in a while to these
 hallowed pages, here it is:

     What's an explorer to do?  The rainforests are dwindling to
 the size of vegetable gardens, the information superhighway is
 about to loop every neighborhood, and even the mysteries of the
 past are being commandeered by new age guerrillas.
     Increasingly, the most viable option for those in search of
 the road less traveled, the genre not yet classified, is to set
 the compass inwards and tramp the virgin canyons of the cranium.
     Something of that mindframe went into the making of Through
 The Hill, a new collaboration on the Gyroscope label by American
 pianist-composer Harold Budd and Andy Partridge, English
 guitarist, songwriter, and co-founder of pop group XTC.  The
 working premise for this soundscape of instrumentals and
 occasional verse was "fake archaeology."  Budd, with his
 proclivity for boldly improbable composition titles, shows his
 hand in such evocative place names as 'The Place of Odd Glances'
 (familiar to many of us, no doubt) and 'Ceramic Avenue.'  As the
 focus shifts to artifacts that may be found in these regions,
 Partridge contributes verse, recited by Budd, about such
 priceless discoveries as 'Bronze Coins Showing Genitals.'
     "We were really grasping in the dark until we could find
 ideas or alleyways that we had in common, and we seemed to
 gravitate towards this idea of archaeology," Partridge explained.
 "I don't know why.  It seemed to be an area in which we both felt
 comfortable with each other.  And we both liked the idea of
 fakes.  So we decided that fake archaeology would be the order of
 the day."
     "It's a record I've wanted to make for a long time," he
 added, "and doing it with Harold Budd is a bit of a dream,
 really.  If you wanted to make an interestingly gentle,
 exploratory album, who would you make it with?  There are very
 few people who I would find inspiring.
     "It's a very contemplative, very meditative music, but I
 think it's also a very personal, very pictorial thing.  It's you
 sitting down with a scrapbook or a picture book on your own.
 It's obviously not something you do with 15,000 other neo-Nazis
 punching the air in a stadium.  You sit down and you draw the
 pictorial juice out of it yourself---I hope."
     On the face of it, Budd and Partridge are improbable
 partners.  At 58, Budd is nearly 20 years older than Partridge
 and, according to the latter, imparted a "benevolent uncle vibe"
 during their collaboration.  Stylistic contrasts are just as
 evident.  Budd's expansive foreboding minimalism is eons aways
 from quirky, hook-driven XTC hits like Partridge's 'Senses
 Working Overtime.'  While XTC records have shown flashes of an
 introspective, instrumental side of Partridge, Through the Hill
 does seem weighted more towards Budd's signature sound.
 Partridge's guitar echoes the dominant resonance of the piano.
     "This is clearly not an XTC album," Budd commented.  "At the
 same time it isn't really the inner turmoil of my dark closet.
 Andy is there turning the lights on, while I have a tendency to
 dim things down."
     Comparing the new album to his work with Brian Eno, Budd
 added: "I think this was two soundmakers on equal terms arriving
 at an agreement, whereas Brian is more apt to accept what I did.
 Frankly, these were fairly naked duets.  The works with Eno, at
 least sonically, are not duets.  They are collaborations of two
 different kinds of skills working on one another."
     In Through The Hill and its fake archaeology, perhaps there
 is a metaphor that extends far beyond one album.  Electronics has
 made it possible to create without leaving home, and Through The
 Hill is a good example, taking shape as it did from taped
 improvisations in Partridge's backyard shed in Swindon, England,
 followed by much faxing between Swindon and Budd's home in
 southern California.
     Computerized mass marketing is on the music industry
 horizon, with the prospect of albums routinely downloaded by the
 customer direct from the performer.  How long then before
 improbable collaborations are common, with musicians hooking up
 across the globe to record albums uncommercial by usual standards
 and yet each with its own small, dedicated constituency?  It's a
 point to ponder, Partridge agreed.
     "It would be nice to bust the industry wide open, really,"
 he said, "I rather like the idea of the cottage industry and the
 small holder.  You would get infinitely more interesting music
 and healthier attitudes, I think."
     "I have gone personally from wanting to be a Monkee/Beatle/
 Rolling Stone to really wanting to be a songwriter specifically
 and not a performer.  I just don't enjoy or think I have the gift
 for performing.  I find actual performance rather fake.  It is
 almost the opposite of writing a song in the first place---
 reproducing the song over and over and geeing people along to
 enjoy the song.  All that really smells funny to me.  Over the
 years I've become much more interested in following the
 songwriter line, the backroom boy line, rather than the rock god
 levitating over the arena."
     Partridge's remarks could almost be part of a policy
 statement from Gyroscope, a year-old label that by design has
 positioned itself outside standard formats.  Gyroscope publicity
 czar Nick Clift describes the label's main fare as "new edge"---
 in other words, exploratory instrumental without the crystals-
 and-catharsis image of much new age.
     "New age is the bastard child of '80s experimental new edge
 artists," asserted Clift.  The description seems particularly
 appropriate in view of ambient music pioneer Brian Eno's role in
 forming Gyroscope's parent company All Saints Records, as well as
 its spiritual predecessor, the defunct Opal label.
     Gyroscope markets All Saints' products in the US and in
 addition generates its own releases, such as Californian
 guitarist/synthesist Gene Bowen's contemplative ode, The
 Vermilion Sea.  Artists on the label also include Djivan
 Gasparyan, a master of the oboe-related Armenian duduk or nay,
 whose current release, Moon Shines At Night, is in the same mold
 as his US debut, I Will Not Be Sad In This World on Opal.
     Actually Gasparyan could be considered the odd man out in
 the Gyroscope catalog.  While his tortuous duduk solos satisfy
 the ambient definition surprisingly well, they are, after all,
 the product of a geography that needs no invention.  The
 resonant, earthy timbre of the instrument evokes a region where
 the Middle East meets Europe.  Haunting and brooding for the most
 part, Gasparyan's music makes no concessions to the listener in
 the way contemporary styles often do.  Traditional to the core,
 it demands patience and perseverance.
     This is not the case with The Familiar, a lushly
 orchestrated album composed and performed by pianist Roger Eno
 and ex-Dream Academy singer Kate St. John and produced by Bill
 Nelson, one-time guitarist for Be-Bop Deluxe.  This is rich and
 accessible material with its plethora of melody, counterpoint,
 and the contrasting voices of piano, strings and various
 aerophones.  Imagine chamber music embellished by St. John's
 crystalline soprano.
     The Gyroscope soloists range from the warm soundscapes of
 zither player Laraaji on Flow Goes The Universe and Brian Eno's
 sparse but nurturing aural therapy of Neroli to the cataclysmic
 microcosms conjured by Toronto studio wizard Luke Koyle's
 structured ambience in the powers of 10, the most jazz-influenced
 of all these recordings.  This ain't sipping music, and it's hard
 to imagine any of it finding much space on the radio.  More's the
 pity, because all these releases are challenging and imaginative
 and deserve high fidelity attention.  Gyroscope's one shortcoming
 is the lack of informative album notes.  Who are these people and
 why are they doing this?  The average consumer is given few
     Collaborations seem to be Gyroscope's passion at the moment.
 Along with the Budd/Partridge sojourn, the label is currently
 releasing a quietly evocative collage by Nelson, R. Eno, St.
 John, Laraaji and Japanese classically-trained cellist Mayumi
 Tachibana.  Collectively they are calling themselves Channel
 Light Vessel, a name under which they may possibly tour in the
 US.  Their first release as a formal entity is entitled
 Automatic, although The Familiar might be regarded as a dress
 rehearsal.  Both the group name and the new album title were
 inspired by BBC radio weather reports, with reference to an
 unmanned lightship in the English Channel.
     In spirit Automatic might be described as electronic back
 porch music.  Not that all the music is made electronically.  The
 instruments are mostly conventionally acoustic, and include oboe,
 cor anglais, and sax---played by St. John, Eno on piano and
 accordion, zither and m'bira (thumb piano) from Laraaji,
 Tachibana's cello, as well as assorted guitars.  The melodic
 gentility of much of the material doesn't qualify as techno or
 spacey either.  But there is a friendly improvisation in the way
 these musicians traded off-the-wall ideas and sounds, and then
 left it up to studio buff Bill Nelson to splice together the
 results into something artistically and commercially viable.
     "We come from quite disparate backgrounds," acknowledged
 Eno, who like his brother Brian is best known for atmospheric
 soundtracks of a solo nature.  "The tacit rule was that everyone
 would underplay, so that if anyone was doing anything interesting
 they would have the forefront.  Then Bill put lyrics on and
 overdubbed a lot.  It allowed a sparse canvas to work on, really.
 That's what we were aiming at, so there wasn't one person
 dominating throughout the thing."
     The approach is in keeping with other projects by Nelson,
 whose 1993 album on Virgin Venture, Blue Moons And Laughing
 Guitars, centers on home-produced song sketches for a band that
 never came to be.
     The metaphorical possibilities in Channel Light Vessel's
 name seem to fascinate Nelson, who characterizes the group as
 "the channel for the spirit of creativity without ego."  Put
 aside the mystical overtones and the description seems even more
 apt.  Studios and computers are proliferating around the planet
 in countless channels of light.  One can envisage all kinds of
 link-ups between artists of different backgrounds, unfettered by
 style, status of geography.  Showmanship, much less stardom,
 becomes incidental in these circumstances.
     As with any exploration, it will be an uphill struggle at
 times.  Worthless property will go on the market, and pathfinders
 will lose their way.  But, if Automatic and Through The Hill are
 any indication, this territory is worth the effort.


From: (TP Uschanov)
Subject: 'A Typology of Hooks'
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 94 17:56:08 EET

For those that often be near a university, I recommend checking Gary Burns'
'A typology of "hooks" in popular records' in _Popular Music_ 6:1 (1987),
pp. 1-20. Burns notes a huge number of different hooks - unusual rhythms
and times, melody hooks, harmony hooks ('every chord change is a hook'),
lyric hooks (foreign language, nonsense words, catchy jargon or colloquia-
lisms, obscenity or blasphemy, references to the music industry or
musicians, intertextual quotations of or references to other songs),
instrumentation hooks (scream, glissando, speaking, fast singing, whisper,
orgasm sounds, animal sounds, theremin, harpsichord, cowbell, vibes,
electric 12-string, sitar, fuzz, feedback, synth, strings, band or
orchestra), tempo hooks, dynamics hooks, improvisation hooks, sound effects,
editing, mixing, channel balance, and distortion. Each type is illustrated
with well-known examples. Incidentally, _Popular Music_ also has a section
for short discussion notes and news items titled 'The Middle Eight'...!

T. P. Uschanov
University of Joensuu, Finland


Date: Fri, 4 Nov 94 23:59:47 PST
From: John Relph <>
Subject: Divers


  Yes, the latest issue of The Little Express has finally hit my
doorstep.  Is Andy Partridge really on the new Thomas Dolby album (out
last week)?  No, that's not John Peel introducing the new _Drums and
Wireless_ album, that's our own Mr Partridge doing a great impression!
Did anybody buy the new Terry Hall (ex-Specials) album?  Supposedly Mr
Partridge co-wrote a couple of songs.  Speaking of _Drums and Wireless_,
I think it's pretty good!  I like the pared-down treatments, and we also
get to hear the beginning of "Runaways", and of course no fade-out
endings at all.  The early stuff sounds pretty wild, but has definitely
not aged well, in this reviewer's mind.  Most excellent cover art,
however, a very nice takeoff on the _Drums and Wires_ cover.  I
especially like the smoke features.

  Apparently the latest word on the XTC Music and Friends Convention
1995 is that it still might be held in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.  If
you are interested in helping to make it happen, please write (postal
mail) John Bott, 1205 S. Midvale Blvd., Apt. A, Madison, WI 53711,
USA.  Or, phone +1-608-271-1297.

  All this and more can be yours!  But you absolutely must subscribe
to The Little Express, dahlings.  Postal mail: The Little Express,
P.O. Box 1072, Barrie, Ontario L4M 5E1 CANADA.  Canada & USA - $4. per
copy or $14. for 4 issues.  Overseas - $5. per copy or $16. for 4
issues.  Prices include first class postage.

  On another subject, that of "tributes" (not "testimonial" in this
case), the two tapes _Obscene Collection_ and _Beasts I've Seen_, both
collections of XTC songs covered by fans, are available from Bizarre
Depiction.  However, many of the versions of the songs are markedly
different from the original, and some are intentionally bad.  Most are
interesting, at the very least.  Postal mail: Bizarre Depiction, P.O.
Box 30905, Philadelphia, PA 19104.0905, USA.  (Prices not known as of
this writing.)

  Enough for now, it's time for bed.

        -- John


End of Chalkhills Digest #391

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