Friday, April 20, 2012

Hermit R I.

Well, not entirely, but finances are keeping me slavering over a worn keyboard instead of  off down the road, cold pint in hand...

So, as it goes, a while back I chucked in the day job and struck out on my own armed with a pencil a crotchety imagination and various machineries of joy with which to promulgamate the process. Life is a learning experience and what I've learnt is NOT-A-LOT!  Whether tethered to a paycheck or frenetically chasing the golden hoop of freelance, folk are generally the same. Originality is not what is wanted . Yes, yes, I realised this way, way back in the misty past during that godforsaken marketing course that I did - when 'marketing' was all the thing - "Ho ho ho, Mr Moon, forget 'innovation' if you want to get ahead in this field, see where the pack is going and try head 'em off..." Baaaaaaaaaaaaah!

And yes, after months of submitting original characterisations, mascots, emblems and logos, what the herd really want is something as close to Donald Duck, Micky Mouse, MacDonald's  double-M and the Nike swoosh as they can get away with.

Meanwhile my quest to exit this looping rat race and settle/wade/hack my way into a less treadmill-like lifestyle in the Natal Midlands remains thwarted by the non-sale of the Johannesburg house. My plans of straw-bale building, hut erection, dammit even man-cave dwelling are in a permanent state of suspension. The only interested parties to date have been rather impractical business-men (aren't they all?) and foreigners. Yes, foreigners - except they have to sell their own holdings in the old-country before they can progress. The locals aint interested, they want a ready-to-move-in, like what they saw in last month's Elle Decor, perish the thought of putting their own spin on things (see first paragraph!). My extolations on the benefits of the solar-geyser and rain harvester fall on deaf ears.

Everything is on hold, I cannot seem to focus on any long-term project in fear that it will suffer dire disruption as and when we move, the semantics of which still keep me awake at night. So, apart from sporadic forays into the novels, graphic or otherwise, these are on hold. The vegetable patch should be showing the first signs of the prospective winter pickings - but it has been left to its own devices. From what to keep and what to chuck, arranging to install things like diff-locks on the bakkie and somewhat more rugged tyres on the motor cycle to what sort of stock I'd like to put in the gift/ craft-shop and wondering if I can get some micro-brew kegs into the pub .

Here is a character I want to develop, he's Harry the Hood, he's Harry Potter on amphetamines, out for a pint, a snort and a bit of (inadvertent or otherwise)dark magic on the side...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Moving Again

Bloody hell, doesn't time fly....

2012 has started with the tumultuousness that a new year can sometimes bring- we have decided to move house (again!) and this time not just around the corner but three provinces over.

Candi's (the missus) doggy business kicked off to a hit-the-floor-running start, with people actually having to be turned away. The trend was going that way by the end of last year but the onslaught was somewhat unexpected. So, decisions have to be made, at the moment Furbabies still mainly an at-home one (wo)man operation, as it is it cannot get any bigger - space wise essentially. There can never be more than one class on the go and at present its impractical to extend training hours any further than they are already reaching. Also Candi has dreams to teach other forms of dog schooling, agility is already taking off (in a dedicated but casual sort of way) and other types are on the cards.

Me myself have had a dream for a number of years now to take up my Mother's offer of putting up a wee house on a corner (swathe??) of unused wooded hillside overlooking her bed and breakfast operation, Millgate Cottages in Balgowan, KwaZulu Natal. Me, I'd like to turn the forest into a walk-around attraction - a mini version of The Lost Gardens of Helligan in Cornwall a place we visited a few years ago. There's a small hill, some steepish bits, lots of indigenous trees and plants and an overwhelming lot of undergrowth and alien plants that really need to be hacked out - but, I have a vision, somewhere in here (taps head). Any advice on deterring snakes will be welcome, I also got eaten alive by ticks up there!

Somewhere in here...

There is ample space for a professional dog and puppy training facility and although it'll be starting from scratch again and not having the urban market to tap as easily as in Johannesburg, it's do-able. It also has the added facilities of the existing bed and breakfast - accommodation for extended training camps - a small but ample snack/coffee bar, gift shop, gallery, and a pub! I spent a week down there a fortnight ago, pacing things out, hacking through undergrowth, looking up cabin builders and utilising the Mole and Pig!

Site of new Furbabies School

So we're packing up operations in Johannesburg and shifting lock stock and barrel down to the Midlands. We have to sell the Auckland Park house first of course. This has meant the last week and a bit has seen me doing all the bits n bobs I had planned to do over the next few years ;-p. Pulling up the remaining carpets for a start, I hate the filthy things, with good wood underneath I could never be bothered with the foul dust and smell trapping things. Painting a few more rooms - the previous owners had a love affair with yellowish-beige enamel paint, it was everywhere. I'd completed half of the house so I tackled most of the rest. On pulling up the carpets in my office I discovered that the slight sag in the corner was worse than I thought. An old case of termites and dry rot, although cured, hadn't been properly repaired - just carpeted over. So, up with the floorboards, in with some new timber supports - and new floorboards, skirting etc etc!

I'm dreading the actual move, we don't have much actual furniture but I'm a habitual hoarder, a collector of things-that-might-be-useful, tin cans, glass jars, my vinyl collection, odd jars of mismatched nails, a pile of guitar amplifiers, comic books etc etc. It's all got to go (well, not the vinyl!! -or the amps!!!), along with piles of books, magazines, clothes...No room for it down there, we'll start off with a wee one-bedroom cottage and grow from there. Besides, the semantics involved in actually getting stuff down there are somewhat mind boggling!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Music

A friend has asked for musical recommendations, what I've found/discovered/uncovered/dug out of some greasy bedsit in cold hard suburbia. I was all set to do some sort of listy thing but then, on reflection, it got me thinking of where I am on music these days...

Buggered if I know.

The utter fantasticalness of the net is that I can, on a whim, listen to anydamnthing I want to at a moments notice. However, this has its downsides- for one, there's just so much bloody stuff to listen to. I have eschewed  mainstream music in its entirety, and this includes many acts that would usually be classified as 'alternative' - a label I long ago considered irrelevant - a label that has become so comodified that it includes virtually everything even remotely left of field - I cannot say when was the last time I listened to music radio station, on the odd time I've had to endure such my suspicions have largely been confirmed. Total 100% regurgitated facile elevator music. I sometimes wonder if I have turned into that generation who, as a lad, would condemn my music as unmitigated bollocks - but I don't think so, Max Bygraves remains a long way from my playlist.

So, in the quest for musical genius - and yes, it is still out there, I do not, and will not subscribe to the stupified  'All the good stuff has been done, maaan' mindset that many 'musos' subscribe to as they plunk out yet another crusty cover. I have resources, and I shall reveal a few.

First up the NBT radio show is an indispensable source of new, groundbreaking  acts. Martin intersperses each show/stream of largely undiscovered gems with good solid oldies - not your 'Oh here we go again ' yawners, but carefully selected to underscore and enhance the newer stuff. Be it rock, folk, electronic or just plain eclectic, it all gets a whirl and is a damned good launch pad for missions of further exploration.

There are several podcasts that I constantly return to Phantom Circuit is one, featuring a goodly chunk of experimental, electronic and just plain odd music with interviews with featured artists.

Belbury Radio is another favourite of mine, presented by the chap behind  a band called - Belbury Polly, again oddly experimental stuff, a smattering of unusual classics and choral pieces. Very much in the Hauntology vein of music that I have grown to admire this year- haunting stuff that invokes odd memories drenched in reverb.

One of my favourite artists in the Hauntology vein is The Caretaker.
An aside, Hauntology is not to be confused with Witch House, Witch House is Trip Hop pt2 or sometimes lets-slow-house/ebm-down-to-16rpm-and-call-it-a-genre..

Author/writer Warren Ellis does a superb podcast thingy on occasion, the most recent one, Spektrmodule2, can be found  here.

Of sites I frequent/subscribe to regarding music:  Dying For Bad Music is a must, for music at its most eclectic, some of it can be, er, really 'bad', as in spotty yoof in bedsit wif casioplayer, spoons and a tape recorder - though out of such, greatness comes on occasion.

It was on DFBM that I discovered my favourite band of the year - Motorama.

I have had two definite directions that my musical preferences have gone over the last 18 months, one is folk and folk rock. In my misspent yoof, I developed quite a liking for bands such as Steeleye Span and they've always lurked in the background, their albums finding their way onto the turntable. My predilection for all things gloomy, embeded in Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen did sort of sidestep around the obvious Goth-by-numbers of Sisters/Rosetta etc and found a home in the dark folk of Current 93 and Death in June, which, then guided me back to folk in its rawest form, rediscovering the Wickerman soundtrack this year put me on a whole new quest. Blogs like Wheel of the Year have helped with some absolutely fantastic folk/dark folk/psychfolk compilations -as well as some pretty awesome almost classical album links.

My other musical direction is into Drone. Drone covers a wider expance of music than one would think, from the Doom metal of Sun (((O))), through electronica and ambient soundscapes (Drone does actually feature as an element in a lot of Folk music- so there is a link there). Outstanding examples can be found at Droning Earth with again, some well put together compilations available.

 Greats for me in the Drone arena are artists like Anji Cheung, A Death Cinematic and Good Weather For An Airstrike -all available on Bandcamp, another site that I've found indispensable, with many acts offering their work for free or for a small fee (or for what you feel the music's worth). An interesting wee thing I discovered is that Good Weather For an Airstrike started out as a project aimed at nullifying the effects of tinnitus, a condition I have that is slowly worsening (a hereditary condition I've been told ) from the prolonged ear ringing I suffered after many a club night or gig to inability to bloody follow conversations in a crowded venue to a constant buzz that worsens with fatigue/illness. And oddly, I find some drone to do just that-cancel it out.

Outstanding albums/artists over the last year, new and old, a list:

Motorama-Alps, also look up their earlier ep's all available on their site.
Anji Cheung-Ghost of Dead Lords and Ritual
The Wickerman Soundtrack
Vor Der Flut -(Hommage An Einen Wasserspeicher) various artists featured in a water reservoir emptied for renovation- the best natural reverb ever.
Tim Hecker-Rave Death
William Basinski-92982
Good Weather for an Airstrike-As we're Both Just Standing Still
Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services-Black Mill tapes Vol 1
The Caretaker-An Empty Bliss Beyond This World
Little Kid - Logic Songs
Birdengine-The Crooked Mile
Eyes Like Mirrors - Crusades
A Death Cinematic-Preternatural
Kemper Norton-Libraries Act

Under Pressure

Buggrit, my last post on here reflected my frustration at trying to find balance...I then went and spent near 2 months chasing the elusive dollar, getting up at 6, hitting the net, chasing freelance projects etc etc. To say its been a waste of time would be wrong, but dammit the return aint been great and then smacked with a string of expenses I didn't need.
 Apart from a few dalliances with some Crawlspace stuff, I've done absolutely nothing on my drawing projects: Boys With the Filters and Karroo Rats, both that I'd had high hopes to do large things with by the year end.


OK, time out, its time to bask in the holiday glow for a bit...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday kick back or at least , try to.

The one thing I just can't seem to regulate, now I'm freelancing again, is the balance between work/play/relaxation.

The one reason I gave up the day job was the hours spent doing buggerall and dwelling on the fact that I could be doing something- anything. Now I have the opportunity, I do just that - except, it rolls over into the time I usually spent out-of-work. It's winding me down and wearing me out. Whether I'm designing something (a mug, a badge, a showstand),

here's a mug I baked earlier

manipulating an image (for a tile order or such), drawing another page of the script I'm working on - sketch/ink/colour/letter/repeat, silkscreening or just doing domestic stuff like cleaning/decorating, I cannot seem to get myself to relax - if there is something, anything that needs to be done/fixed/sorted...phew!

Toofy Thaibo

This wee bugger has the right idea, mooches over to the desk and lies all over the place. This is Thaibo (or Tai-bo - never quite got the right one). I should take a few tips from his lordship.

I've cleaned out the jacuzzi and I'm filling it, I'll force myself to sit in it with a beer,  the heater doesn't work (needs fixing....) so the solar geyser comes nicely to the fore! Dammit, I just realised that the bubble thing won't bubble because the damn prepaid meter the council installed does not work and the jacuzzi is on that circuit...perhaps if I run a cable/splice this to that...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

David Bowie...

My first introduction to Bowie was the Aladin Sane album, or at least, my first conscious introduction. Someone has brought the album to school and was flashing it about. I'd heard the music before, I think I recall having liked Space Oddity but wasn't really aware of  'Bowie' until I saw the cover of Aladin Sane.
I recently picked up an old biography of David Bowie at the charity shop a week or so ago - by one Chris Charlesworth. Written in 1981, it was amusing to read, 30 years later, a persons account of the rise of Bowie and his, in 1981, almost retirement after his mercurial rise to fame in the early 70's.
The Seventies - perhaps its then because I transformed from a pre-teen kid to an angsty young man within that decade that I see it as an incredible period of change - and growth. It was, my time of appreciating and discovering life and, almost as a parallel, music transformed from besuited mop-tops, through rock, glam, pop and by the end of the decade, punk and post-punk. I had it all! I don't believe we've seen the like since.
David Bowie epitomises the Seventies in my mind.  The beginning of the decade saw him a whistful, naive figure who by 1974 was a rock phenominon, sparking glam, soul, punk and new romantic. What artist today has the ability to totally transform themselves, as Bowie did from the idol Ziggy Stardust to the crooning Young American and then on to the bleak dystopian vision that was 'Low ' over a period of a couple of years? But, I think, it was helped by his outlook, he eschewed fame and was not willing to compromise, not willing to create fodder for his audience. Reading the (short) biography, fame very nearly did kill him, but he was able to rise above it - or rather, skim beneath it.
So, consequently I've been listening to loads of David Bowie this week...My favourite album remains Hunky Dory, followed closely by Low, Ziggy Stardust and more recently Heathen. I wasn't keen the soul period of Young Americans, though I now thoroughly appreciate his mindset behind it  . Apart from, I think, one really miff album in the Eighties - Tonight, Bowie's albums have all been good.

Good night.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

That Seventies Show

Way back then, pocket money didn't go far and even when the paychecks started rolling in R150 didn't go that far either (though, at 35c a beer at The Swan and the NME at 25c it weren't all bad). Still, shelling out for a record album was not something to be sniffed at (haha still isn't) and of course, it was the imported stuff that counted, local pressing were well crap most of the time. I still managed to spend a goodly chunk of the paypacket on music.  There was a popular photographic/electronic chain, Etkinds, around back then and at some stage they had come up with the idea of having a stand of vinyl deletions in their stores at around a Rand a platter, loads of crap but with a bit of diligence I would afford myself the prize of finding something off my usual beaten musical track. My first introduction to the likes of Rick Wakeman (Six Wives of Henry VIII), Can, Amon Duul and Faust (I distinctly remember passing up a copy of the untitled Faust album on clear vinyl through not having just a few cents more...) and others was afforded me by these racks of gems.
Some of the finds I gleaned back then have fallen by the wayside, either 'borrowed', lent out (then forgotten) or swept away by other misfortune.

I stumbled over this blog site - Orexis of Death recently (a Russian site?) and have been able to relocate some of  those lost slabs of sound, and found that these were not stand alone albums, damn, I love rediscovering seams of  music...Swiss band Toad up there one of 'em (about 5 other albums available!). Trolling through Orexis' pages I am reminded of how much bloody great music has been produced (yes, yes, crap stuff even more so) swept aside by what is deemed 'popular' by the music moguls of time past and present. Actually, as with Toad its criminal how many acts were ignored because they were not within the British/American axis. In so many cases stuff coming out of Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Argentina etc etc etc was in many ways so much better, if only through innovation and without the entrenched sound of UK/USA swamping out the music. Production may have been more polished, more professional , though I deem overproduction to be a heinous crime and in so many cases merely glosses over stuff with a lets-make-it-sound-like sheen suitable for the masses...

Rock on!!