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October 2009

Having now won the prize for least-updated website, I might as well make an effort to update it. Actually, the truth is I haven’t done much in the past couple of years of note (at least not in the sense of commercially available stuff).

Having said that, in May 2008 I slipped out an album of own compositions, pseudonymously credited to The Field Mouse Conspiracy and titled ‘Freedom & The Dream Penguin’ . Roughly half new recordings and half recordings made during the previous 10 years, it features 48 willing and talented associates, including several terrific vocalists, mostly recording artists in their own right – namely, Susie Young, Alison O’Donnell, Sarah McQuaid, Tina McSherry, Judy Dyble, Janet Holmes, Brian Houston, Paul Casey, Joe Echo. Peter Wilson aka Duke Special also features on an instrumental track.

The tracks can all be sampled and the CD ordered here:

There’s more info and links to each vocalist’s own sites here:

And four tracks (including an otherwise unavailable version of ‘Underachievement’ with Joe Echo) can be heard in full here:

More recently – in fact, this very month – Hux Records have released two previously unheard Quintessence live albums which I was very closely involved with: ‘Cosmic Energy: Live At St Pancras 1970’ and ‘Infinite Love: Live At Queen Elizabeth Hall 1971’ (the latter a 2CD set). Despite having apparently retired from this sort of thing, I nevertheless got sucked in to contributing an 18,000 word sleevenote and 1969-72 band chronology split across both releases and oversaw the mastering (with the excellent Cormac O’Kane) and booklet design (with the legendary Mark Case). The discs are sumptuously packaged with great sound and I’m thrilled that both Dave ‘Maha Dev’ Codling and Phil ‘Shiva’ Jones from the original band – who have been great fun and very supportive throughout – are delighted with the end result. The albums are available now from amazon and other standard web retailers. There will also be further Quintessence-related projects on Hux next year, which I’ll be involved with to varying degrees, including an expanded first-time reissue of the sole 1973 album from Phil and Dave’s post-Quintessence band Kala and a compilation of more recent tracks from ‘Shiva’s Quintessence’ – a fabulous project involving Shiva, Swiss studio wizard Ralph ‘Rudra’ Beauvert and Maha Dev guesting on a few numbers. Ralph also runs the splendid Quintessence website:

On a more trivial note, having not myself created any music at all, or barely picked up an instrument, in over a year I was touched to be gently arm-twisted last month into writing a pseudo-baroque piece for mixed-ability oboes and bassoons by the Woodwind supremo at the music school I work in. I must admit, it was fun… And last week I wrote a surprisingly upbeat guitar/vocal piece loosely about the end of the music industry. Cormac O’Kane has very kindly offered to record it, so that should be happening soon. I’m hoping that my friends Ali MacKenzie (bass), Chris Probst (guitar) and Joan McEldowney (voice) will be up for contributing to it. With the Tina McSherry project which Ali and myself were involved with stalling on logistical grounds a couple of years back, and Ali subsequently ensconcing himself in yet another degree course for a while, the time is now right for a MacKenzie/Probst band with yours truly acting as cheerleader in chief. Having seen my old pal Joan performing at a pub in Killyleagh during the summer, the penny dropped: here was a great vocalist/guitarist with bundles of energy and fearless charisma just waiting for some meddling day-dreamer (that’d be me…) to form a band around her – if only for pub gigs and a bit of fun. If I can get them all into Cormac’s studio for a crack at the song I mentioned, that’ll kick start it. As I type, we’re only waiting for diaries to converge…

Meanwhile, do check out Joan’s lovely song ‘King Winter’ on youtube:

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